Bad Cat Breeders is an advocate for buyers (mainly pet buyers with the occasional breeder buying from another breeder). We have literally heard of countless cases of unsuspecting buyers being ripped off to the tune of hundreds and even thousands of dollars by being sold sick kittens almost immediately requiring costly veterinary care that does not always save the life of the pet.
We research breeder after breeder and post warning after warning, yet there seems to be a never ending supply of one sad case after the other. And we truly empathize with anyone who has been the victim of a Bad Cat Breeder. All of our admins have had a bad experience themselves.
We also recognize that in almost every single instance, the ensuing and often times heartbreaking situation could have been avoided had the buyer done enough research and adhered to some very basic principles when shopping for a kitten. So here are some points to consider before you embark on your journey of obtaining a new family member, particularly if you cannot visit the cattery in person.
Before you start contacting catteries, please familiarize yourself with the breed of your choosing. How does a typical representative look like? To mind comes a case that we most recently investigated about a “Ragdoll breeder” who sold ringworm infested kittens to unsuspecting buyers (often with kids). Said “breeder” (Shilo Webb of Red Mountain Ragdolls) advertises her kittens as a “TICA registered cattery”. Doesn’t that sound great or what? After all we read everywhere that you should only buy from a registered breeder.
Well, actually one needs to understand that the term “TICA registered” means absolutely nothing (that does for all registries) and most certainly does not guarantee that you are buying a healthy kitten nor does it guarantee that you are buying the breed that is being advertised.
For a one-time fee of $80 for non-members you can register your cattery name in TICA. So now you have a TICA registered cattery (name). So you could essentially breed mutts and claim your cats are such and such breed while claiming you are a TICA registered cattery thus insinuating that the kittens produced are actually registered, papered purebred kittens.
That is what our example Shilo Webb did. She claims to raise Ragdolls. On her Facebook page she posts picture after picture mentioning a sleuth of several colors such as “traditionals” and “tortie mitten” and “flame mink”. Here are some examples taken straight off her Facebook page.
(Flame mink) (Tortie mitten)
When you google the word “Ragdoll cat”, this is what you find:
Clearly, the kittens offered by Red Mountain Ragdolls are looking different. All cat fancy associations actually publish breed standards. The standard for Ragdolls requires all cats to have pointed colors. Some come with white and some have no white (mitted and bi-color refer to white being on parts of the cat). “Pointed” in the cat fancy means light cream body with darker colors on the points which are ears, mask, legs, feet and tail. There is one minor exception and that is the color “mink” which was occasionally observed in the beginning of this breed and is still fancied by some breeders, albeit a non-standard color. There is no such a color as “flame mink” or “tortie mitted” in this breed. This simply means that Shilo Webb uses a purebred cat (her male) and breeds it arbitrarily to whatever mutt cats she can find and calls the result a “Ragdoll”. And she charges you – the unsuspecting pet buyer - $800+ for a “purebred” kitten. Of course it will come unfixed (standard for backyard breeders like this one) with the promise to get papers once the kitten is fixed knowing full well that you will never see any papers because she only has a TICA registered cattery name and does not register her mutt kittens with TICA.
If you – as a pet buyer – run across a breeder offering something that does not seem to fall in line with what is commonly advertised for this breed, please be careful and do additional research to make sure that this particular breeder indeed uses purebred, registered parent cats. A good example would be found in the Siberian Cat. All traditional colors are allowed (black, brown, red, diluted versions of those colors as in blue, golden & cream, with and without white and with and without silver). If you see a pointed Siberian (Siamese coloring), rest assured whatever it is that you are looking at – most likely it is not a purebred Siberian. In the event this happens to you and your chosen breed, please do not buy from that breeder.
As a pet buyer, it is your responsibility to educate yourself before you buy. That is very important. And do not just contact one breeder. Contact as many as you can. You will soon see a pattern on how reputable breeders answer your questions and how their kittens look like.
Whenever possible, try visiting the cattery. Even if you live many miles away – just tell the breeder you want to come visit (even if you have no intentions). The second you hear “Oh, sorry – I don’t allow visitors” followed by a bunch of excuses (dangerous to let people into your home, worries about diseases, valuable breeding stock would be endangered, etc.), do not just walk away. RUN! If you do visit in person and you see a filthy environment with clearly sick kittens/cats, please do not become a martyr and “rescue” a kitten from “that horrible place”. All you do is enable this “breeder” to continue their handy work. Instead tell the breeder that you will discuss it with your husband/family/fiancé (even if that is a lie) and get back to them. Then call animal control and file a complaint. That can be done anonymously and it will guarantee that these cats/kittens will be taken away from said “breeder” and receive appropriate care.
Another consistent point of contention for many of our clients have been guarantees or better lack thereof.
Carefully read the guarantee clause in your contract (no contract = no go, no exception, period!!). Almost always this guarantee period is 72 hours. Whenever confronted with a guarantee period of less than 72 hours, do not buy from this breeder. Keep in mind here that the only illness that has an incubation period of less than 72 hours is the common kitty cold. All other diseases/parasites such as Feline Aids, Feline Leukemia, ringworm, hook worm, roundworm, tapeworms, Trichomonas Foetus, etc. have incubation periods extending 72 hours and often times considerably. For example, the incubation period of Feline Leukemia is 8 weeks. In other words – a 72 hour guarantee period does one thing and one thing only – negate any and all responsibility of the breeder for the vast majority of diseases/parasites.
It is not feasible for any breeder to guarantee a kitten to be free of parasites/diseases for more than 14 days after it leaves the cattery as the breeder no longer has control over the environment said kitten will be exposed to. 14 days is a very reasonable guarantee period and should cover the buyer for the vast majority of diseases/parasites. In return – you as the buyer better be taking that kitten to the vet and having verified via blood tests and fecal examinations that the kitten is indeed as healthy as the seller claims.
In the case of Shilo Webb, kittens developed ringworm within a week of being at their new homes. Given that the incubation period of ringworm is on average around 10-12 days, it is clear that these kittens contracted ringworm at Shilo’s residence.
Upon examination of the contract, it became clear that Shilo Webb only gives a one year guarantee for genetic issues. No other guarantee. As a buyer it is your responsibility to read and understand the contract. If you see terms that you do not agree with, you can accept them, but please be aware that this exposes you to potentially very costly issues. Ideally, you will either have the breeder alter the contract to be more inclusive or you buy somewhere else (we suggest the latter). If you do not understand something, ask! If a verbal promise is being made at that time, insist it be put in writing. If the breeder refuses to do that, look for a different breeder. Again – under no circumstance buy a kitten unless you are very clear what is covered and for how long and what is not covered. If a breeder is unwilling to work with you claiming you are taking too much time or worse – insinuating that there are other buyers and if you do not decide right now, the kitten of your dreams will be gone, walk away! That often times is a sales tactic. It might also very well be true; however, truly reputable breeders will not only patiently answer all your questions, but encourage your asking them as they feel that is a sign of a great pet owner.
In closing – as a buyer you should:
1. Familiarize yourself with your chosen breed,
2. Research and talk to as many breeders as possible,
3. Require proof that the cats used for breeding are properly registered,
4. Call the respective registry the breeder claims to belong to and verify their registration and that they are a MEMBER in good standing. It should serve as a red flag if a breeder has a registered cattery, but is not a member of the association. While you are on the phone, ask if the breeder is regularly registering litters and has registered litters recently. All this is information all the registries will gladly provide free of charge and over the phone.
5. Never EVER accept a contract with no health guarantee. Make sure you get a specific guarantee. The guarantee should specifically state that the kitten is guaranteed for 14 days against EVERYTHING. It should state that the kitten arrived free of parasites, properly vaccinated and free of other diseased and genetic issues. It should furthermore require you to perform basic testing to verify the health of the kitten (blood tests, fecal tests) and should also penalize you with complete removal of any and all guarantees should you fail to perform required testing.
We truly believe that proper research and due diligence on part of buyers would greatly diminish the sheer mind boggling number of reports we receive each month. And we firmly believe that not buying from a breeder that does not offer a contract, does not offer a reasonable guarantee, does not pass your basic background check (i.e. calling the registry and inquire) will eventually stop breeding because they can no longer sell their kittens or they might be forced to step it up and up their services.
As consumers we are very powerful. We decide who stays in business and who runs out of business. Many of us research buying a car or a major appliance for months prior to purchase. That is what an informed consumer does. Don’t let this practice take a back seat when purchasing your purebred kitten. We know you will be glad you showed the very same diligence and be rewarded with a happy and healthy kitten for life.